~ Extreme Mustang Makeover, Norco, CA 2012 ~
also join us on Facebook!

This page is a running journal of Cindy and her mustang partner as they train for the competition in Norco on May 18th - 20th, 2012. Links will appear throughout the text to pages where you can find out more about anything you see here.

Ninety days to go from wild to wonderful - follow the progress through days 1 - 30, 31 - 60, then 61 - 90 on the next pages!

Day 31: Sunday, March 4, 2012. Boots

Today Hannah wore splint boots on her front legs for her ride. After the roundpen, she and Cindy rode around the ranch again - this time unescorted!

Day 32: Monday, March 5, 2012. Review

Working around another day of jury duty, Cindy was able to bring Hannah out for a review ride, covering all the basics. They also rode around the ranch alone again, with Hannah becoming comfortable with riding pretty much anywhere!

Day 33: Tuesday, March 6, 2012. Blown Away

Extremely high winds, plus a full day of jury duty for Cindy, meant today was strictly a 'ground manners' day!

Day 34: Wednesday, March 7, 2012. And Still Blowing...

Another day of high wind warnings for the high desert, another day of blowing and stinging sand. Hannah and Cindy worked on the ground again, practicing grooming.

Day 35: Thursday, March 8, 2012. Trail Ride!

A beautiful day to be outside, so after their roudpen riding review, Cindy and Hannah went out on trail! Accompanied by Kristen and JC, they stayed out for about 30 minutes and really enjoyed a wind-free day. Hannah took to trail riding well for her first time!

Day 36: Friday, March 9, 2012. The Arena, and More. See pictures in the Gallery

Big day today for Miss Hannah - she had her first ride in the main arena! She was saddled for the first time with Cindy's Marshall, a full leather saddle instead of the light-weight cordura she's been wearing. Then after a brief roundpen warm-up, Hannah and Cindy moved into the arena for the first time. Working with much more space and around such items as cavaletti, plastic blocks, and a zombie cow (don't ask!), Hannah took it all in stride.

Cindy allowed Hannah to get used to her new surroundings, and the pair worked on being straight and correct at the walk and trot without the aid of a constant roundpen railing to hold you in place! Hannah did very well, but Cindy paid close attention to her tendency to drift with the shoulders towards the gate. Cindy worked Hannah on staying between the reins and not being distracted or trying to 'leave' the arena before the rider is ready!

After her workout, Hannah received her first 'big girl' halter, a pink nylon. She also experienced her first hoof picking - Cindy has been working with her on having her feet handled, but today was her first actual cleaning, and she behaved perfectly.

All in all, a great day for Hannah and Cindy!

Day 37: Saturday, March 10, 2012. Day Off

Today at YVEC, the Morongo Basin Horsemen's Association held their spring Eq-Games. There was plenty of activity and new sights for Hannah, but as Cindy was one of the judges, Hannah got the day off from riding.

Day 38: Sunday, March 11, 2012. Half-n-half

Hannah had a full two hour workout today, half in the arena and half on trail. During their arena ride Cindy worked on Hannah's steering, controlling the shoulders in a larger space. The trail ride was special - Cindy and Hannah rode out for an hour alone!

Day 39: Monday, March 12, 2012. Day Off

After a nice workout in the arena with continued work on straightness and steering, Hannah and Cindy worked on a few obstacles! First up was the gate, and on her first time through Cindy pushed it open, then rode through and closed it. On her second try Hannah did a good job with her lateral movements, allowing Cindy to open and close the gate easily!

Many of Saturday's Eq-Games obstacles were still in the arena, so Hannah got to go through the curtain (and she also stood quietly while Cindy tied the curtain tatters together to preserve it from the wind!). She walked over the bridge, and worked around the barrels and sidepass poles. Through it all she worked like a mustang - willing, and unconcerned by any of it!

Day 40: Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Review

As Hannah progresses and steps up the level of work she is doing, Cindy will be adding more review days. Just as a human child needs more study time the more advanced the work, a young horse needs more repetition to allow the more difficlut concepts and moves to sink in. Today was a great review day.

Day 41: Wednesday, March 14, 2012. Review

Cindy and Hannah are working steadily along, and doing great!

Day 42: Thursday, March 15, 2012. Review

Arena to trail, these review days will realy let Hannah's training and confidence sink in.

Day 43: Friday, March 16, 2012. Review

How do you make a good horse? Practice!

Day 44: Saturday, March 17, 2012. Review

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Cindy and Hannah worked on steering and everything else they could get in before the nasty weather moved up the mountain and into Yucca Valley.

Day 45: Sunday, March 18, 2012. Weather

Neither rain nor sleet nor snow...make for good riding days! Unfortunately today had all three, sometimes at the same time. And a day like this would not be complete without some very high winds and a severe drop in temperature, and no one was disappointed with the one we got! Hannah stayed warm and dry under her shelter today.

Day 46: Monday, March 19, 2012. Meet the Hobbles

Finally - the sun returned! Cindy and Hannah got right to work today, spending their ride time in the arena. After, Hannah got introduced to the hobbles for the first time, and she did very well with them.

Hobbles are used for many reasons, but one of the most important reasons to break your horse to hobbles is for the horse's safety. If at any time your horse should become tangled or trapped, with legs bound by wire or anything else they manage to get themselves into, a hobble-broke horse will be more likely NOT to panic. Horses that are used to hobbles understand that if their feet can't move, they should stand patiently until help arrives. Which is the response you want in an emergency situation! By learning about hobbles, Hannah took another jump forward towards being a well-broke horse!

Day 47: Tuesday, March 20, 2012. Loading & Unloading

A big day for Hannah - her first arena ride with another horse in the arena, and some time spent loading into different trailers!

Cindy and Hannah rode in the arena with one of YVEC's lesson horses, Turk. Hannah kept her eye on Turk and his rider, but otherwise did very well! Afterwards, she was laoded into 2 different styles of two-horse trailers. She was cautious but not a problem to load - all set to come to Norco! Amanda snapped these photos of Hannah loading into her 2-Horse Slant:

Day 48: Wednesday, March 21, 2012. Fun, Work, and Groooming See pictures in the Gallery

Before starting today, Cindy turned Hannah loose in the arena to play! It's the most space she's had to run since coming to YVEC, and Hannah too advantage of it! When her party time was over, Cindy calmly walked in and clipped on the lead rope, then walked out. Easy as any more experienced horse!

More review work today, as Cindy has stepped up her expectations of Hannah's performance. Drifting and bluging shoulders are not allowed, so Hannah's steering work got a little more intense today. She does better going to the left than to the right, where she has trouble with drifting towards the gate around corners. Careful to never overpull in the bridle, Hannah experienced the crop today as a further aid to prevent her shoulder from drifting, and she is starting to understand the concept!

After her workout, Hannah was trimmed on her muzzle, bridlepath, and legs with the electric clippers. It was her first time with these, and she really couldn't have cared less about them! She stood nicely while clipping, then received a nice washdown to end her day. See pictures in the Gallery

Day 49: Thursday, March 22, 2012. Steering

Yes, it makes for a boring report, but a good horse! Cindy continues to work on Hannah's steering, straightness and responsivness in the arena. And Hannah continues to improve!

Day 50: Friday, March 23, 2012. Trail Review

Today CIndy and Hannah rode with Lauren and Jericho during their lesson, and after, went for a nice trail ride.

Day 51: Saturday, March 24, 2012. Hannah's First Day Trip See pictures in the Gallery

When Cindy's husband Steve offered to help someone out with their new horse trailer, Cindy saw an opportunity to get Hannah a lot of new experiences! So off they went this afternoon down to Rancho Mirage, to Michael Cintas' ECI (Equestrian Centers International). ECI is home to many hunter/jumper and dressage competitors, with a lot of equipment Hannah has never seen, including an indoor arena!

It was her first time working in an indoor, and her first time around so many bright and big jumps, and Hannah handled it very well. In fact, what concerned her most was the horses on two sides of the arena, all with their heads hanging out of their stall to watch her! One big white guy kept shaking his head each time Hannah passed, and she tried to avoid each time through there. So Cindy gave her a minute to watch and see that horse would not be able to approach her, and Hannah did well for the rest of the indoor ride.

Then it was on to the big outdoor arena. The arena was the largest Hannah has been in yet, and had jumps and piles of logs to get around, and high judges' booths and flapping flags to deal with.

As usual, Hannah did great, and Cindy even took her on a canter in the big space! Then it was down the lane again, this time to the dressage arena, equipped with mirrors.

Those mirrors did give her a start - she couldn't figure out where that horse had come from that suddenly appeared at her side! Cindy worked her next to the mirrors, first just standing and allowing her to see how the horse in the mirror matched every move she made with her feet or head! Then she worked her at a walk and trot in both directions, and pretty soon you could just SEE Hannah saying , "Who IS that gorgeous horse over there, anyhow?"

After the mirrors, Cindy and Hannah headed out to the Western Town a little further down the lane. There were plenty of buildings to ride in front of, but that wasn't quite good enough for Cindy! She took Hannah first onto the dance floor, then onto the sidewalks and porches of the various establishments, including an inn, a saloon, and a church.

Hannah had no trouble with any of this, and seemed to enjoy seeing new surroundings. Watching Hannah made me realize how much of our own ideas we put into our domestic horses. So many of them have difficulty approaching and working over strange or "extreme" type obstacles - after all, they are weird things the horses have never seen before, and we approach them as such.

But for a mustang, all of our 'everyday' things are weird things - there is no difference between a stall, a barn, and a feed cart or a giant ball, a curtain of streamers, or even a saloon dance floor! Cindy demonstrated that by riding with confidence and expecting a positive outcome, you communicate to your horse that one thing is just as easy to negotiate as another. Nothing about today caused Hannah anything more than a normal amount of caution in a new place - she didn't 'freak out', spook, or misbehave. She did just what Cindy asked - went confidently forward in every type of surroundings. We are very proud of Cindy and Hannah! See pictures in the Gallery

Day 52: Sunday, March 25, 2012. Sleep Away

Instead of returning to the ranch after her day trip, Hannah went to Steve and Cindy's house in Pioneertown for a little more work away from home. But this first day at Sleep-away was a rest day - rain and winds made it unfit for riding!

Day 53: Monday, March 26, 2012. Road Ride See pictures in the Gallery

Cindy and Hannah spent today learning all about traffic while on a trail ride along Pioneertown Road. Hannah got to experience the deeper sand of the wash, as well as the steady hum of traffic buzzing along the road. Good preparation for the Urban Trail Ride section of the Norco Makeover!

See pictures in the Gallery that Steve took as he rode along with Cindy!

Day 54: Tuesday, March 27, 2012. Arena Work

Most of today was spent working in the arena at Steve and Cindy's house. Hannah is doing a great job, but Cindy can still feel her urge to drop her shoulder and duck to one side during workouts. Today she made the arena gate her focus, pulling towards it during the ride as so many horses have a tendency to do.

After the ride Steve spent some time walking with Hannah, to give her more experience being handled by a variety of people.

Day 55: Wednesday, March 28, 2012. Steve Gets Things Started

Today Hannah was caught up in her stall by Steve, and she went with him willingly. They walked all around the Lapp's house, over the concrete sections and other scary areas. Hannah behaved like a lady and just took in the scenery! For her lesson today, Cindy took Hannah to the wash and worked her for the first time with a pair of small spurs.

Hannah wasn't fond of the spurs, but that drifting shoulder needed a reminder that was stronger than Cindy's leg alone. They worked hard but gained some ground that day. Aftewards, Hannah stood tied at the Lapp's house, and then Steve cooled her out and rinsed her off.

Day 56: Thursday, March 29, 2012. Home Again

Hannah returned to YVEC today after her extended stay at Steve and Cindy's. She had a riding session during Lauren's lesson, and seemed glad to be home.

Day 57: Friday, March 30, 2012. Hoof Trim!

New things today! Susan, who assists Cindy with grooming and tacking horses, caught Hannah up today and got her ready for her ride. Hannah behaved wonderfully for her new handler. Her session today was held in the dressage court, working on steering again without the help of a fence railing around her!

After her ride, she had her very first hoof trim! She behaved very well for Josh, the shoer, showing up the other horses by lifting and holding her own feet, instead of leaning on Josh while he worked!

Day 58: Saturday, March 31, 2012. Day Off

Day 59: Sunday, April 1, 2012. Wind

April 1st, but no one was fool enough to bother riding in the heavy winds today!

Day 60: Monday, April 2, 2012. Moving Forward

Today was a regular riding day, more work in the arena.

Follow Hannah's story on the next section, Days 61 - 90!

Yucca Valley Equestrian Center - 7429 Avalon Avenue - Yucca Valley, CA 92284 - (760) 365-4433